Ukrainian student becomes first pupil to receive organ scholarship
A young Ukrainian boy has been selected as the first recipient of a scholarship at Salisbury Cathedral School that will see him through a training programme to learn the art of playing the organ.
Maksym Yeremenko, 11, originally of Kyiv, Ukraine, has been chosen as one of two recipients. The other slot remains open to girls who would like to learn how to play the instrument, which has historically been male-dominated.
Before arriving in England in 2022, Maksym had only tried playing the organ once at a church in Ukraine, but has been playing the piano since the age of six. He said the organ is more complicated because it has two sets of keys (referred to as manuals) rather than the one on a piano.
Maksym said: “It’s a bit different because I’ve got pedals and two manuals, while a piano’s got only one manual and usually two or three pedals.”
Salisbury Cathedral School’s organ and piano teacher Andrew Post said Maksym is at a good age to progress from the piano to the organ, as children have to be of a certain height to reach the pedals. He said Maksym’s skill on the piano already gives him a good start.
Andrew said: “Normally the way 90 per cent of people come to the organ is they’ve played the piano, they have a good standard on the piano, and then they want to try playing the organ. So, by far the majority of people that I’ve ever taught have been a good standard on the piano first and Maksym’s a very good pianist.”
The school is continuing its search to find a girl to fill the remaining scholarship slot and make regular climbs up the mediaeval staircase to the organ. Well known organist Anna Lapwood, who became famous after posting videos of herself practising on the Royal Albert Hall’s organ late at night, has shared the school’s posts on social media encouraging girls to try out.
Andrew said the extreme underrepresentation of women and girls as organists is due purely to historical reasons.
He said: “Playing the organ is one of the most equal things you could possibly have. You could of course argue that a woman isn’t going to run 100 metres as fast as a man, but musically there’s no reason at all to differentiate.”